To understand Self-Intimacy, it is first important to understand yourself.

Described below are two important Yogic concepts that outline the subtle and gross human anatomy:

  1. The Pancakośa (pronounced ‘pancha kosha’, translated as “five sheaths”), and
  2. The Analogy of the Chariot.

This is a visual representation of human anatomy as described in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad. It is said that there are five layers – Pancakośa (pronounced ‘pancha kosha’, translated as “five sheaths”) – that encapsulate a person.


“From food are made all bodies, which become
Food again for others after their death.
The physical sheath [5] is made up of food.
Within it is contained the vital sheath [4].
The vital sheath is made of living breath.
Within it is contained the mental sheath [3].
Within the mental sheath, made up of waves
Of thought, there is contained the sheath of wisdom [2]. 
The wisdom sheath is made of detachment.
Within it is contained the sheath of bliss [1].
The Self [0] is the source of abiding joy.”


–  Excerpt from the Taittirīya Upaniṣad, translation by Eknath Easwaren

This is a visual representation of human anatomy as described in the Kaṭhopaniṣad.


“Know the Self as lord of the chariot,
The body as the chariot itself,
The discriminating intellect as
The charioteer, and the mind as reins.
The senses, say the wise, are the horses;
Selfish desires are the roads they travel.
When the Self is confused with the body,
Mind, and senses, they point out, [they] seem
To enjoy pleasure and suffer sorrow.
When a person lacks discrimination
And [their] mind is undisciplined, the senses
Run hither and thither like wild horses.
But they obey the rein like trained horses
When one has discrimination and
Has made the mind one-pointed.”


–  Excerpt from the Kaṭhopaniṣad, translation by Eknath Easwaren

It is on the basis of these understandings that the four types of Self-Intimacy are described below. It is important to note that none of the Self-Intimacies are fully distinct from the others as can be seen in the visual representations of the human anatomy above; they all rely on or build upon each other in some manner. Yet, certain practices will have more emphasis in certain categories, as are explained in the following sections.

The practice of Self-Intimacy with all aspects of yourSelf is a type of homecoming. 

It is my vision that every human being has the freedom to choose to practice Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Self-Intimacy on a daily basis. I believe that this would radically change the world as we experience it.


Physical Self-Intimacy targets your gross (as opposed to subtle) body, with practices involving your physical anatomy and body systems.

This could loosely reference the Annamayakośa (food sheath) and Prāṇamayakośa (vital sheath) of the Kośa model, or the chariot itself in the Analogy of the Chariot.


Mental Self-Intimacy targets the seeds of your thoughts, and your thoughts themselves. Note that this is different from your brain! Your brain is targeted during Physical Self-Intimacy practices as it is part of your physical anatomy. Your mind is targeted during Mental Self-Intimacy as it is part of your subtle body, with practices involving understanding and challenging your habits, patterns and tendencies.

This could loosely reference the Manomayakośa (mental sheath) and possibly the Vijñānamayakośa (wisdom sheath) of the Kośa model, or the reins in the Analogy of the Chariot.


Emotional Self-Intimacy targets the felt sensations in your body, with practices involving increasing personal literacy around your choices and how your choices affect your experience.

This could loosely reference the Manomayakośa (mental sheath), Prāṇamayakośa (vital sheath) and/or Annamayakośa (food sheath) of the Kośa model as felt sensations originate as a process of the mind and manifest in the body. In the Analogy of the Chariot, this could reference the horses.


Spiritual Self-Intimacy targets yourSelf. These types of practices are not necessarily about “spirituality,” and they are not necessarily theistic or dogmatic. These are practices that involve a withdrawal of the senses so that you can abide in your true spirit and practice recognizing yourSelf.

This could loosely reference the Anandamayakośa (bliss sheath) and/or Vijñānamayakośa (wisdom sheath) of the Kośa model. In the Analogy of the Chariot, it could reference the driver.

Your Self – the person within the body – is represented in the Kośa model as Puruṣa and in the Analogy of the Chariot as the passenger.


By reading the above, you may notice that you are already practicing one or more of these Self-Intimacies in your current daily experience! There is no one right way to practice Self-Intimacy; it is flexible and open and there is room for all expressions.

If you are seeking additional inspiration and support in these areas, you could check out the below resources for more information!